Last weekend evolved into a whirlwind of shows and shopping. A girls’ weekend—friends spending time together in Branson.
Visiting Branson and Silver Dollar City is a metamorphic experience for a native Missourian. Our little moth has changed into a glitzy butterfly, and the razzle-dazzle masks the charm of small town Branson. When I was a student at Hard Work U, Branson had a four way stop and two or three small country music theatres. Dick’s Five and Dime was there, but instead of being a tourist attraction, it was just a place where you could buy inexpensive items.
Silver Dollar City has changed from a small local attraction with a train ride, the Fire in the Hole and a few pickers and grinners to an extravaganza of professional shows, thrill rides, lights in every tree, bush, hollow, building, structure, and a five story Christmas tree—four million lights in all.
Branson is always bittersweet for me because Jim and I spent a lot of time there, especially when his dementia made our trips to Colorado much harder. Being a musician himself, Jim loved the music shows. His favorite performer was Tom Brumley and the highlight of each Branson trip. We had season passes to Silver Dollar City and enjoyed taking our grandson with us when he was little. I’ll never forget the weekend when he and Jim went into the restroom and I waited and worried about what was taking them so long. While I vigilantly guarded the door, they walked up behind me. They had exited on the other side of the building and my four-year-old grandson led his grandpa back to me.
I have more memories of Silver Dollar City and Branson than they have Christmas lights. This weekend, I added to those memories. The production of A Dickens’ Christmas Carol was performed by a talented troupe that would have done Broadway proud. As if that wasn’t enough, my friends and I experienced Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan. The show had so much magic that we all went home with pockets full of fairy dust and determination to never grow up.
Branson and Silver Dollar City have both become unrecognizable—different, but still hold the magic of a lifetime of memories. Where my dad used to fish is now a multi-million dollar shopping area known as The Landing. Streetscaping with gaslights, fountains, Christmas lights, old fashioned trolleys and street performers give it the look and feel of other upscale “old town” shopping centers scattered throughout the United States.
I’m sure a lot of tourists feel like they’ve taken a step back in time when they visit Branson. Sometimes I feel like I’ve leapt into the future and don’t really know this place at all. Branson is like a rock star with countless facelifts to deliberately remove the flaws and accidentally erase the character that made it unique.
The hills don’t look anything like they did forty years ago, but then neither do I. Everything changes. How we react to those changes determine whether we continue to enjoy life or groan about the “good ole days.” I don’t know about you, but I intend to find as much joy as I can while I pass through this world.
Branson is most definitely filled with entertainment choices and great places to eat. Even with my determination to be flexible, I’ll admit that slow moving traffic, elbow to elbow shopping, and trolling for a parking space is annoying. Spending time with friends and enjoying world class entertainment adds to my treasure trove of happy memories.